Episode 491 - Getting retro right!

Aug 10, 2020

DD member Furwerk Studios posted in our forum about how annoying it was that movies try and do an 80s retro thing often get things totally wrong and end up looking dumb because of it: Not just superficial looks-wise but stylistically too in terms of the kinds of shots they do, lighting and story structure. I thought that'd make an interesting topic for a cast! Why do people often mess up retro stuff? We're not talking about historical accuracy here, that's slightly different, what we're talking about is setting something in an era and getting the “feel” of that era right. It pays off hugely when it works, but when it doesn't it comes off as superficial, disappointing and ignorant.

Topics and Show Notes

This happened a LOT recently with stuff set in the 80s because 80s fashions came back and people thought it'd be fun to capitalize on the nostalgia. Some do it right and some do it wrong. The important thing to remember when going for a retro feel is NOT to treat an entire decade as a “thing”. Decades are made up of many different fashions across many different countries! During the 1980s for example the styles at the start of the decade were much more like the late 70s and at the end they were similar to the early 90s, and in places further away from the fashion capitals older fashions lasted for longer. The 1980s weren't a decade of pink hoodies with loud patterns, shoulder-pads, big hair, denim jackets, and “momjeans”, it was a lot more varied than that and not all those things were done at the same time. Jeans are a good example: They changed shape a LOT during the 1980s, from flares at the start, straight legs, boot-legs, skinny jeans, stonewash jeans, tapered jeans with slim waists baggy legs and slim ankles, and baggy 501s. All of those cropped up at different times in the decade.

Aside from compressing entire decades just down to one “look” the other issue people run into is projecting modern styles onto the past: Mullet hairstyles in the 1980s are nothing like what they are now for example: you didn't typically shave the sides of your head or have a crewcut with long hair at the back for a mullet. Mullets existed previously, even in the 1970s, but only started to become an 80s thing in the mid 80s. Hair would be slightly longer at the back. if you wanted to highlight that you'd use gel or hairspray or something to slick down the sides of your hair to make them flat. Towards the end of the 80s mullets grew longer at the back and shorter at the front, but shaving the sides wasn't popular. Tattoos, baldness, body piercings, and facial hair were not as common in the decade either, all of them had heavy symbolism and said something about the person who had them, while today they're mainly just aesthetic choices of the individual. Tattoos meant a person was tough or had a rough life or profession. Beards were hyper masculine. Baldness meant you were tough or had an alternative lifestyle. Multiple piercings was much the same.

That said, you don't always have to go for authenticity, as long as you understand what you're doing and know how to have fun with it. Kung Fury is a good example of this. It sardonically uses an 80s retro feel while winking at the audience with its tongue in planted in its cheek. Napoleon Dynamite has a weird indeterminate 1980s feel to it while NOT actually being set in the 1980s.
Do you know any examples of retro done wrong?


This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Gumshoe - Groove on into this black and white world of cool. Lazy coiling blue smoke floats out and leads the way down to this underground world of jazz and sophisticated glitz. Let the bass walk you through, take a twirl with the glittering piano keys, high-five those highhats, and take your place at the bar in the coffee lounge. Make your’s black, no sugar. You’re staying up all night for this one!


Topics and shownotes

Links
Forum thread about bad retro attempts - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/forum/topic/178445/
Fave retro comic on DD, Satan Ninja 19X https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Satan_Ninja_198X/

Featured comic:
Hel's Ferrywomen - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2020/aug/04/featured-comic-hels-ferrywomen/

Featured music:
Gumshoe - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Gumshoe/, by Pencilz, rated T.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Pitface - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/


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Episode 481 - Fun with history?

May 31, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

Today we're chatting about using historical stuff in your story and knowing how to use it right! Sometimes it's good to change stuff and sometimes it's not. The thing is that you should ONLY change it if you know what you're doing and why you're doing it. A good example is A Knight's Tale- It has a historical setting and there are a lot of deliberate historical anachronisms in it, and they're all very obvious, they do not pretend to be anything but what they are.

Episode 476 - Tell me about your childhood

Apr 26, 2020

3 likes, 2 comments

How does where you grew up influence your comicing? This idea interested me, so I posted about it on the DD forums and asked other people. I didn't really know about it myself: how did my childhood environment influence my later comicing? The conclusion I came to was that since my childhood experience was so alien to the worlds depicted in the media I enjoyed so much most of my comicing and creation was based on imagination out of necessity: Historical fantasy set in mountainous, cold, hazy Europe, vs my own experience of a new country without much history, with sunny weather, clear skies and a beachy lifestyle in Australia.

Episode 471 - Fantasy

Mar 23, 2020

2 likes, 0 comments

Today we're having a chat about fantasy fiction! Mainly books and the fantasy writing that inspired us and that we love! Faves like Tolkien, Fritz Leiber and Piers Anthony! Just to define, we're talking swords, elves, armour, dragons etc, in a “medieval” context, generally European. As a subset there's native, Arabian, Asian, Mayan etc, also high fantasy, low fantasy, sword and sorcery, historical fantasy and even mythology…. And then techno fantasy, contemporary fantasy, steampunk, fantasy cyberpunk and so on… but we mainly stick to the mainstream stuff and only just touch on the weird little variations for now.

Episode 423 - Fave weapons in fiction?

Apr 22, 2019

4 likes, 0 comments

What's your favourite weapon in fiction? Mine are ridiculously giant swords, huge anti-tank rifles, and mecha. There are a lot of complex reasons for weapon choices in fiction, a Kalashnikov assault rifles for example signals certain things about the person carrying it: They're usually a bad guy for a start. This originated during the cold war, with certain types of bad guys using AKs. First it was Soviet Bloc soldiers, then it was Viet Con and rebels from South East Asia, then it became the “terrorist” weapon. The sub machine gun is the weapon of the bad guy. Terrorists used to use Uzis (before they turned to AKs), bank robbers used to use Mac 10s, now it's the HK MP5. Good guys carry an M-16 or AR-15 rifle. In historical fiction traditionally the bad guys carries curved swords while the good guys had straight swords, this came from crusades. Minor characters carry spears and heroes carry swords. Women, weaker characters and rebels carry bows. Giant swords and guns are often given to smaller characters in anime (usually female), as an obvious contrast with their small size. It's meant to emphasis the fact they're sort of a “mighty mouse”.

Episode 422 - Positive promotion and controversial characters

Apr 15, 2019

4 likes, 0 comments

The entire gang comes together today for two topics that were taken from recent newsposts: Emma Clare's Positive self promotion, and Tantz Aerine's Handling Controversial Characters. First up we chat about why it's always a great idea to sell yourself positively, NOT be arrogant or douchey, but rather by talking enthusiastically about what you genuinely love about your work and using that REAL and SINCERE enthusiasm to infect others with your love of what you do. Emma was mainly talking about the way you introduce your comics to friends and family but it definitely applies more broadly to self promotion in general: Don't try and get sympathy through self depreciation (oh, it's not very good…), and don't be an arrogant ass (My stuff is AWESOME!), rather you should just be honest about what you love about it (This story was so FUN to write!).

Episode 387 - History and Pastiche

Aug 7, 2018

6 likes, 1 comment

In this Quackcast Tantz and I chat about the differences between working with historical settings and the different approaches we take. Tantz's comics (Without Moonlight and Brave Resistance), are both set in a real period of history: Nazi occupied Greece during WW2. Pinky TA is set in the 1920s in an alternative version of history, with Pinky coming from the fictional “Crimean Empire”. Tantz has to keep times, places, and details close to real history while with Pinky TA I can pick and choose the things from history I like the best and create my own idealised pastiche. The advantage of Tantz's approach is that everything is there, nothing has to be invented, just researched and reproduced, whereas my approach involves a lot of creation which slows things down and makes it harder. On the upside Pinky TA is much more flexible, I can easily fit whatever I want into the story, whereas Tantz's comics are bound by the rules of the history she's presenting.

Episode 270 - Historical Accuracy Vs Story Needs part 2

May 9, 2016

3 likes, 0 comments

We return to the topic of historical accuracy versus the needs the the story. This was Bravo's idea and we wanted to have him along but alas it was not to be! Tantz Aerine, Pitface, Banes and I discuss the topic, reading from a few of the many contributions in the form thread that Bravo started. Special congratulations to Pitface who's just graduated with honours with her BA in classics! -So you she really does KNOW what she's talking about… as does Tantz too of course. Banes and I are just along for the ride. Gunwallace gave us a really pretty tune for the comic Torn Vines, a real action music, such a driving rhythm to it!


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